Scottish Highland cattle grazing at McLaughlin/Knoll Farm
Photograph by Ann Day for the Mad River Valley Planning District

  High-drive barn, circa 1930

Situated on the east side of Bragg Hill in the Town of Fayston, McLaughlin Farm, or Knoll Farm as it known today, is a well-preserved farmstead comprised of pastures, hay fields, gardens, sugar maples and forest lands. Contributing buildings include a vernacular 1904 farmhouse, a late 1800s bank barn, an 1880 high-drive bank barn that was reconstructed on its present site in 1923, and several sheds and pump houses. The land around the farmstead, fertile and productive, has resulted in continual farming for almost 200 years. Fayston proved to be particularly good for farming because the slope of the land to the south resulted in an early spring melt of the snow, allowing for the planting of three, or sometimes four, crops a year.

The farm was typical of larger farms in Fayston, producing in 1850 large quantities of wool, butter, cheese, and maple sugar, as well as wheat, corn, oats, potatoes and hay for personal use. In 1860 the farm was reputed to have the best sugar woods in the county. The McLaughlins, Irish immigrants, were the sixth owners of the farm. Three generations of the family worked the land from 1874 to 1935. They continued to farm the same products as their predecessors, particularly butter and maple syrup in large quantities, but introduced eggs, apples, wheat, beans and Irish potatoes to the crop variation. In 1923 a barn was bought by the McLaughlins, moved to their farm and reassembled with a high-drive that allowed easy access to all three levels. Until the late 1930s a spring, which continues to flow through a open pipe to the kitchen, was the only water source for the house.

McLaughlin Farmstead served as a farm and inn since 1937, coinciding with the growth of automobile tourism to the mountain states of New England. The economic viability of the inn was a significant factor in the preservation of the farmstead as an agricultural entity. Previous owners of the farm ensured this land will remain in its present condition by granting a conservation easement to the Vermont Land Trust. The current owners have established a working family farm with public programs such as art and music festivals, classes on natural history and organic gardening and retreats for conservation activists.

The McLaughlin Farm, more commonly known as Knoll Farm, is on Bragg Hill Rd. (Town Hwy. 17) in Fayston less than a mile north west of Irasville. Please visit the farm's website for more information.

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